TORONTO â€” A woman whose parked car was damaged in the crossfire of a police shootout in Montreal is hoping the city will reconsider its refusal to cover the cost of repairs.
In an interview Thursday, Shannon Ojero, of Brantford, Ont., said the city has so far refused to pay because she filed her claim too late, and then an official told her police were not responsible for disabling the vehicle because they were only defending themselves.
“This is actually ridiculous,” Ojero said. “Somebody, whether the police department or the city or whoever, I think they should be responsible for it.”
The situation arose when Ojero lent the 2007 black Lexus â€” she calls it her baby â€” to her daughter, Angela Bradt, 17, so she and four girlfriends could spend five days in Montreal over New Year’s Eve. Ojero said she reluctantly let her daughter go, thinking the city was safe, or at least safer than Toronto.
In Montreal for the first time, Bradt and friends went out clubbing, returning to their downtown hotel in the early hours of Dec. 31. Bradt, who is in her last year of high school, said she grabbed some belongings from the parked car, and was in her room for about 10 minutes when gunfire erupted outside. The teens watched as police swarmed the area and shut down the street.
“I said to myself, ‘I should probably move my car if something like that’s going down before it gets shot but I didn’t do anything,” Bradt said in an interview.
However, when she went to move her car the next morning, police stopped her.
“He said, ‘Is that your car, miss?’ and I said, ‘Oh yeah, sure, tell me that it’s shot, hasn’t it been?’ and he goes, ‘Uh, yeah, maybe twice,’ and I went, ‘Great’.”
The car, hit by two bullets in the front, was spewing coolant and was deemed undriveable. Police later towed it away as part of their investigation.
Bradt, who said her friends were pretty freaked out by what had happened, initially had trouble even getting outside because of the police activity on the street. One helpful officer drove her to a car-rental company, but they refused to rent her a vehicle because she was too young.
“I got really frustrated, and I just was bawling and I called my mom and she said, ‘Ok, well let’s get you home’.”
Bradt cut short her vacation and took a bus home after police told her they weren’t releasing the car, which had to be towed back to Brantford, possibly causing more damage.
Ojero, 35, said the gunshots caused more than $2,700 in damage to the radiator, bumper and other parts, but insurance coverage left her on the hook for the $1,000 deductible.
“I’m a mom with two teenaged kids, I’m going to college myself, I’m just trying to get on my own feet, and this $1,000 has really put me in a deep hole,” she said. “This is a car I worked very hard for, I paid it off, it’s my baby.”
Ojero said she had difficulty meeting the 15-day deadline for making a claim because of problems finding someone to speak to her in English, and the city sent her a brief letter saying, “No liability rests with the city.”
“When I called back, the gentleman said, ‘Police were not in the wrong, so we’re denying your claim’,” she said. “And I said, ‘Well I wasn’t in the wrong either, so somebody has to like pipe up here.”
Someone else with the city has now told her to fill out a two-page complaint form and she’s hoping that will lead to her reimbursement.
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press